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THE DEMON BARBERS - Disco At The Tavern

THE DEMON BARBERS - Disco At The Tavern
Private Label DBS006

The Demon Barbers shake you up. A less purist title for a folk album than Disco At The Tavern would be hard to find, yet it contains Child 18, 26 and 49 among a stash of songs from the deep tradition. Its tag line is Celebrating Fifteen Years Of Mayhem. So it does, most joyfully, yet the mayhem is mixed with many subtle passages. Damien Barber is a daring showman, as anyone who has seen The Lock In will know, yet he has dedicated himself to traditional music since his teenage years. Always a great Bellamy man, his band’s stirring arrangement of Bitter Withy, memorably recorded by The Young Tradition in 1968, sums up the exciting contribution he is making.

Other gems among the 13 tracks and 57 minutes are Ranzo, with The Wilson Family adding firepower; Aye Fly, composed by the band’s fiddle player, the always excellent Bryony Griffith; The Three Ravens, a less cynical progenitor of The Twa Corbies; and a fire-breathing version of Tawney’s Sally Free And Easy. Other modern classics are Loudon Wainwright’s Swimming Song and Ron Angel’s The Chemical Worker’s Song, which they call Go, Boys, Go.

Go, boys and girls. Damien’s vocals and concertina and Bryony’s fiddle are joined by Will Hampson’s melodeon and button accordion, Ben Griffith’s drums and electric guitar, Matt Crum’s keyboards, piano and sax, and Angus Milne’s bass and double bass. Then there’s more percussion, and scratching, and sampling, and beatbox, and two top producers to add even more oomph. Donal Hodgson and Kipper have won Emmy and Grammy awards respectively.

The music effortlessly passes the dancing-round-the-living-room-like-an-eejit test. It also provides material for a new Lock In-esque dance show by the full Demon Barbers XL. They blitzed Keswick last Thursday. Missed them. Forty curses.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 108 of The Living Tradition magazine.